Rafael Nadal’s injury record: Elbow, ankle stress fracture, wrist, foot, hip…

Shahida Jacobs
Only 12 men have ever won a set 6-0 over Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal has only ever lost 15 sets by a 6-0 scoreline

Rafael Nadal has won an incredible 22 Grand Slams, but did you know he has missed 16 majors since turning professional because of injury and health issues?

The tennis community is waiting with bated breath to find out if the former world No 1 will be fit for the 2024 French Open as he is still struggling with the thigh injury that kept him out of this year’s Australian Open.

There is added emotion as Nadal has previously indicated that he will retire at the end of this season so his appearance at Roland Garros will likely be his farewell.

The 14-time champion had already missed his title defence last year due to – you guessed it – injury, which only added to his long list of woes since he turned professional in 2001.

A list of Rafael Nadal’s injuries:
2003 – Elbow

The 17-year-old Nadal was due to make his Grand Slam main draw debut at the 2003 French Open, but he was forced to withdraw after he injured his left elbow when he fell during training in Manacor.

2004 – Stress fracture in ankle

After making his major debut at Wimbledon in 2003, Nadal also featured at the US Open that year and the 2004 Australian Open but then the injury curse struck again ahead of Roland Garros.

This time a stress fracture in his left ankle resulted in him missing Roland Garros for a second consecutive year while he was also forced to miss Wimbledon and the 2004 Athens Olympics.

READ MORE: The 3 men to beat Rafael Nadal in consecutive clay court matches

2006 – Foot injury

Nadal missed the backend of the 2005 tennis season due to an injury on the sole of his left foot and that also kept him out of the 2006 Australian Open. He was able to return to action in February that year, but also struggled with a shoulder problem and shinbone injury later on in the year, although he didn’t miss too many events.

2007 – Gluteus/knee/forearm/

Although he played in all four Grand Slams, he struggled with an injury in the left gluteus at the Australian Open and was also troubled by his knee at Wimbledon.

After a shock early exit from the Cincinnati Open, he revealed that he struggled with a left forearm problem, saying: “I wasn’t grasping the racket very well. I didn’t feel anything when I was touching the racket.”

He took a month-long break after the US Open.

2009 – Tendonitis of the knee/right thigh/abdomen

Nadal’s knee started troubling him at the 2008 Paris Masters and aggravated it at the Rotterdam Open in 2009. After losing in the fourth round at Roland Garros against Robin Soderling, he confirmed that the problem was a lot more serious than initially thought.

“I have been playing with pain on my knees for some months now and I simply can’t go on like this,” he said. “The pain was limiting certain movements in my body, which affected me mentally as well.”

He was unable to defend his Wimbledon title as he withdrew due to tendinitis in both of his knees.

Although he played at the US Open that year, he struggled with an abdominal micro rupture and missed the Davis Cup final against Argentina due to his knee problem.

2010 – Knee

A quadriceps tendon tear in his right knee forced him to retire from his quarter-final clash against Andy Murray at the Australian Open champion.

But the year was a major success as he went on to win the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

2012 – Knee

Nadal’s knee woes flared up early in the season as he missed the Miami Open due to precaution. After winning the French Open, tendonitis in his left knee and a patella tendon tear took its toll as he was unable to compete at the 2012 London Games and also missed the US Open.

2013 – Stomach virus

Having missed the second half of the 2012 season, Nadal recovered from his knee injury but a stomach virus forced him out of the 2013 Australian Open.

“My knee is much better and the rehabilitation process has gone well as predicted by the doctors,” he said in a statement. “But this virus didn’t allow me to practice this past week, and therefore I am sorry to announce that I will not play in Doha and the Australian Open.”

2014 – Back/wrist/appendix

Nadal started his year with a run to the Australian Open final, but he then injured his back in the warm-up for the match against Stan Wawrinka. Although he played, the injury grew worse and he needed treatment during the match and ultimately lost in four sets.

A “small disinsertion of the posterior ulnar pod of the right wrist” forced the Spaniard to skip the North American hard-court swing, including the US Open.

Although he returned to action in September, he competed in only a few tournaments before he had to undergo an on his appendix and, as a result, missed the remainder of the season.

2016 – Wrist

After suffering a wrist injury at the Madrid Open, Nadal battled into the third round of the French Open but then withdrew from his clash against Marcel Granollers.

He admitted the wrist was “not broken” but added “if I keep playing gonna be broke next couple of days” and it also kept him out of Wimbledon.

2021 – Foot

Nadal came through four seasons without any major injuries although he did struggle with various niggles including discomfort in his right knee, an abdominal injury and inflammation in his knee.

He also missed the 2020 US Open due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but in 2021 his serious injury woes struck again as his chronic foot problem – known as Mueller-Weiss condition – as he withdrew from both Wimbledon and the Olympics.

He opted for surgery and missed the remainder of the season.

2022 – Rib/foot/abdomen

After winning his 21st major at the Australian Open, Nadal suffered a cracked rib during the Indian Wells Open final against Taylor Fritz and there were doubts over his French Open participation.

However, he returned to action and went on to win his 22nd Grand Slam and 14th title at Roland Garros.

His then struggled with his chronic foot injury ahead of Wimbledon, but still reached the semi-final only for an abdominal tear to force him to withdraw from his match against Nick Kyrgios.

2023 – Hip

Nadal’s Australian Open title defence lasted only two matches as he lost against Mackenzie McDonald in the second round, but he picked up a hip flexor during the match and it proved to be a devastating one.

The 22-time Grand Slam winner was forced to undergo surgery as he missed his French Open title defence, Wimbledon and the US Open, playing only four matches during the whole season.

2024 – Thigh

After finally making his comeback at the Brisbane International, Nadal suffered a micro muscle tear and was forced to skip the Australian Open with the injury also raising doubts over his French Open participation.